How To Cope With Voices
Not everyone hears voices or sounds with psychosis, but it’s not an uncommon experience. The types of things people hear vary greatly; some may be distressing in nature, while others may even be comforting. Some may be temporary, and others lasting.
For a taste of what it’s like, listen along with Anderson Cooper as he tries to complete everyday tasks while listening to a simulation of hearing voices (warning: could be extra distressing for some).
It’s worth noting that hearing voices does not automatically mean someone is experiencing psychosis. A large international 2015 study found that roughly 5% of the general population hears voices at some point in their lives.
Tips For Coping With Voices
- Listen to music (especially with headphones).
- Go for a walk, especially in nature. In fact, any form of exercise can help you hit the reset button.
- Do something—like read a book, draw or make art, write in a journal, do a puzzle, play an instrument, garden, even just count down from 100—anything that requires that you focus intently.
- Find the things and people that help foster positive thoughts and feelings about yourself and the world.
- Do mindfulness practice or meditation. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out the Headspace app.
- Counteract negative messages by repeating aloud something positive about yourself, one hundred times over if you have to.
- Talk with a supportive friend or loved one.
- Gain control by engaging with, or even challenging the voices. Ask them to come back at a more convenient time, or dismiss them altogether. For example, when something negative is said, you might respond with, “Prove it!”
- Find a professional who specializes in psychosis and offers Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT can help change our relationship with voices.